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                 Training and Doctrine Command Commanding General, General Funk, this is about “establish(ing) a foundation to mak(e) our Soldiers feel like they are a part of something bigger and not individuals.” Becoming part of something larger than oneself
is not always the motivation for someone joining the Army. Even if that was the case for some Trainees, the overall goal is to change their mind by instilling trust, faith and confidence, starting with a Professional Pickup.
Beyond making a good first impression with the Professional, Pick-up lays an even bigger opportunity. That is to seize the initiative to show the new Trainees what teamwork means and why it is critical to success. As has been widely published recently, other BCT and One Station Unit Training (OSUT) installations have instituted team building events. At the Maneuver Center of Excellence, the Infantry School has developed an event named The First 100 Yards, and the Armor School has developed an event called Thunder Run. Each
of these events similarly brings a new group of individuals together and tasks them to complete
a mission that challenges them physically and mentally collectively. This will be the next step for Fort Jackson as well.
Suppose the Disciplined and Structured Reception and Integration is the foundation.
In that case, teaching the value of teamwork
is undoubtedly the cornerstone to building confidence in an individual to accomplish any mission or task. It is essential to establishing a sense of belonging and team cohesion. This new approach
demonstrates that the Army is a profession that draws its strength from the collective team effort and the key to this effort is the Drill Sergeant. Every day, the Drill Sergeant inspires Trainees by way of their leadership and professional example. Instead of Drill Sergeants executing Shark Attacks focusing on individuals instead, they will be seen motivating their future Soldiers to persevere through every challenge and obstacle until they reach the finish line. On the first day, the team building event will help set the tone for the remainder of the BCT cycle.
An added element that could be showcased during the new teamwork event is where the Drill Sergeant could lead their Platoon of Trainees. This would focus on leading by example, establishing trust and expertise as the Trainer, and emphasizing the Team and away from the individual. This would show the faith, trust, and confidence Soldiers will have in their leaders.
To conclude, I think our senior leaders got it right by ending the Shark Attack. Very few would argue that the move toward the Professional Pickup has had any adverse effects; in fact, it has been quite the contrary. Trainees are brought on board and given the proper first impression they deserve – professional, firm, and direct. This new approach sets the tone with organization, emotional control, and professional behavior upfront and builds discipline and trust with dignity and respect. The future looks brighter, knowing that this change will continue to affect our future Soldiers positively.
It was precisely what was needed and at the right time.
LTC Hopkins is the Commander of 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, 193rd Infantry Brigade.
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